Program yields healthier eating in kids

Sept. 25, 2009 at 2:08 AM   |   Comments

AMES, Iowa, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- The Switch program, "Switch what You Do, View and Chew," increases healthier eating and reduces TV and computer screen time in children, U.S. researchers say.

Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor at Iowa State University, worked with a team of researchers to evaluate the intervention in a group of 1,323 children and their parents from 10 schools.

The community component is designed to promote awareness of the importance of healthy lifestyles using paid advertising such as billboards and unpaid media such as letters to the editors of print publications.

The school component reinforces the Switch messages by providing teachers with materials and methods to integrate key health concepts into the school day. The family component involves participating families receiving monthly packets containing behavioral tools to assist families in altering their health behaviors.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, found the intervention yielded encouraging results, with the experimental group showing significant differences from the control group in both screen time and fruit and vegetable consumption.

"Although modest, these results are not trivial," Gentile says in a statement. "The effects remained significant at the six-month follow-up evaluation, indicating maintenance of these differences over time. Such maintenance may contribute to reduced weight risks in the future."

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